US lawmakers target China's ZTE with new sanctions bill in case it fails to adhere to Trump agreement

  • ZTE broke a previous agreement and was caught illegally shipping US-origin goods to Iran and North Korea
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2019, 9:23am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2019, 10:33pm

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that would reimpose sanctions on ZTE Corp if the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker fails to live up to US laws and an agreement with the Trump administration.

US President Donald Trump angered many members of Congress, including some of his fellow Republicans, in July lasty year when he decided to lift a ban on US companies selling to ZTE, allowing the Chinese company to resume business.

ZTE broke a previous agreement and was caught illegally shipping US-origin goods to Iran and North Korea, Commerce Department officials said. ZTE pleaded guilty last year over the sanctions violations.

Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Susan Collins and Jerry Moran sponsored the legislation along with Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren and Doug Jones.

Chinese telecoms giants in cross hairs over Iran sanction violations

The bill comes just days after top US officials met with their counterparts from China in Washington to try to hammer out an agreement to end a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

It also comes as the US tries to extradite a top executive at Huawei Technologies, the world's largest telecoms equipment supplier, on charges she conspired to violate US sanctions on Iran.

Many members of Congress view ZTE and Huawei as national security threats, worrying that the use of their technologies in the US could make it easier for China to steal secrets.

This is the second time lawmakers have introduced a bill on ZTE and sanctions. The previous bill, introduced in September, expired as the previous Congressional session ended.

ZTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.